With two original group members, Jean-Jacques Burnell and Dave Greenfield, Baz Warne on vocals/guitar and Jim MacAulay filling in for Jet Black on drums for live performances, the Stranglers gave a fabulous show at Guildford’s G Live.
When I saw the Stranglers in 1977 on their first national tour the warm up music was not Roy Orbison. They were angry young men riding the back of the punk movement. Young, except Black who was in his mid-thirties when he founded the band. Punk, except the Doors-influenced spiralling keyboards of Greenfield.
Now the band gives polished performances with sophisticated light shows. Burnell’s punk posing of yesteryear replaced by jovial smiles and leather jackets in the crowd minus safety pins.
The older numbers soon made an appearance. Get A Grip On Yourself was track two of an impressive 25-song 105-minute set. The trademark thunderous bass of Burnell drives this band like a jet engine.
Peaches was a precursor to two of the group’s 80s hits Golden Brown and Always The Sun, which has recently had a Guildford music festival named after it. The band were originally known as The Guildford Stranglers after all.
There was a brilliant version of Bacharach and David’s Walk On By, an unlikely early hit showing the group were not afraid to take risks. Something Better Change and Hanging Around featured Greenfield’s impressive arpeggios.
Saving the best for the encore, the band blasted out No More Heroes and Go Buddy Go, a classic rock’n’roll number which was “written in JJ’s parent’s bedroom in Guildford” and sounding just as good now as it did in 1977. From punk protagonists to pop purveyors the men in black have passed the test of time.